On Tuesday, Flathead health officials confirmed three additional cases in the county, bringing the total number of confirmed pertussis cases to 49. Health officials say the recent additions to the count were not unexpected, and that the time that has passed without new cases at some schools is encouraging.
Many Flathead residents have been stopping by the Flathead City-County Health Department for vaccinations. Mary Bissell made a point to stop by on Tuesday, to get vaccinated against whooping cough, and it?s not just to protect herself.
?My daughter, who?s her grandma, called me last night and said the doctors had asked all the family to get the shots,? said Bissell.
With her new great granddaughter in mind, Bissell took a shot, in hopes that she wont play a part in the current outbreak. She?s not the only one worrying about the infants in her life.
?He?s just so little, I don?t think his body would be able to deal with all of that sickness,? said Terra Gilroy. Gilroy has a daughter in kindergarten, and an eighteen-month old son at home. She says if the Flathead City-County Health Department doesn?t request classes be cancelled, she may pull her daughter out of class.
?Because me and my sister, our kids are always together, and it?s just going to spread to both of us if one of our kids get it,? said Gilroy.
Health Officer Joe Russell says cancelling classes isn?t the answer, but rather close monitoring of kids and careful contact investigations.
?If we take a pertussis illness out of a school?and prophylax the other ones, we think we?re in better position,? said Russell.
He also says his department doesn?t take closing schools lightly.
?There?s a lot of parents out there, that both parents work,? said Russell. ?If we close the school and that kid had to be home, look at the impacts that it has on the rest of the community.?
Terra sees things differently.
?I can understand that it?s kind of harder and frustrating for parents that work, but at the same time it?s just being spread more,? said Gilroy.
Joe and Terra may disagree on some points, but they agree that infants are most at risk, and they?re on the same page about the role of vaccines, and its safe to say Mary Bissell would agree with that as well.